Location: Eastern Parkway to Parkside Ave., Brooklyn
Prospect Park is a 526-acre urban oasis located in the heart of Brooklyn, New York City‘s most populous borough. The masterpiece of famed landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also designed Central Park, Prospect Park features the 90-acre Long Meadow , the 60-acre Lake and Brooklyn‘s only forest. The nation‘s first urban Audubon Center, the Prospect Park Zoo, and the Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival are just a few of the cultural attractions that make their home here at the Park.
With over 6 million visitors a year, the Park borders diverse neighborhoods and attracts both locals and tourists. Popular activities range from skating to birding to pedal boating to just picnicking on the Long Meadow on a beautiful day. The Park also boasts a stunning variety of natural and geological features. Brooklyn‘s only forest is here, along with a complex water system, rolling meadows and shaded hillsides.
The changes in the landscape brought about by the Park‘s creation are a remarkably complex combination of geology and the pioneering landscape architecture of design team Olmsted and Vaux. The isolated stand of remaining deciduous forest was enhanced to create a more continuous expanse of core woodlands, as well as a woodland buffer that separated the Park‘s perimeter from the surrounding city. The Park designers also took advantage of the kettle ponds and the lowland plains for the development of the Park‘s watercourse. A naturalistic stream channel feeding a 60-acre Lake was crafted to include a steep, forested Ravine and river‘s edge habitats.
Olmsted‘s plant vocabulary included both native and non-native species. Evergreen plantings were the least successful. Many of the exotic species of vegetation he used have since disappeared from the Park while others have been too successful, regenerating at the expense of native plant communities. The Long Meadow replaced swampy peat bog with rolling hilly turf punctuated by scattered specimen trees planted during the Park‘s construction. Some parts of the Park, like the Long Meadow, are called meadows, but they are really mown turf. True meadows are grassy areas where the plants are allowed to grow, flower, and seed. They are beautiful to look at and provide important habitat for insects, birds, and small mammals. There are two meadows in the Park: one by the Upper Pool in Ravine I and one on Lookout Hill.